Bolshiye Koty - - Discovering the local sights
Bolshiye Koty - the oldest museum in Russia and amazing scenery of Lake Baikal
You’d better start doing Bolshiye Koty with the cliff Grebeshok, located in the heart of the village. After a 20 minute climb, you will get an observation deck, offering a great view of the opposite shore, Khamar-Daban Range mountains and, of course, great Baikal.
Walk to the south from the village, it is possible to reach Senaya Pad with extant mines, dumps, chutes and a dredge, once used in the gold mine existed at that time and owned by the Irkutsk merchant Patushinsky. The stream canals still have a wooden trough of gold miners, and you can even go down the vertical shafts, which remain intact, however, it should be done with great care.
Not far from Senaya Pad, there is mount Skriper - an archaeological and natural monument with the caves where ancient tools, tableware, jewelries, dating back to the Iron and Stone Ages were discovered. In 1985 Skriper was given the status of state natural landmark of landscape type. To reach Skriper is possible both with a guide or on your own by an ecological trail, equipped with signs in Baikal National Park. The mountain commands spectacular views of Lake Baikal. Before climbing Skriper, you should bear in mind that the rocks of this massif are quite easy to crumble.
During the stay in Bolshiye Koty you can also take a tour to a gold-bearing mine, located on a creek in Pad’Chernaya, and even try on the role of gold diggers. But bear in mind that the work of diggers is not an easy one: in search of a single grain of gold they could spend more than a day and come back with nothing. Near Pad’Chernaya, in a picturesque mixed forest, there is a camping site with a romantic name “Priyut Starateley” (Shelter for Gold Prospectors), consisting of a few prosaic board shacks. There you can spend the night, upon having supper and bath.
Another attraction of Bolshiye Koty is located a hundred meters from the wharf. This is the Museum of Baikal Studies (one of the oldest museums in Russia), founded by Professor M.M. Kozhov. The museum is presented by a rich collection of flora and fauna of Lake Baikal. The Museum of Baikal Studies operates at the Irkutsk State University biological station, opened in Koty in 1918. The museum’s biologists, cartographers and meteorologists are conducting research work there. The Aquarium of the Institute of Biology also operates at the station.
Today Bolshiye Koty is popular among those who want to see the magical beauty of Lake Baikal, but are not ready go too far to this end.